UCMJ Article 96: Releasing Prisoner without Proper Authority

Should you as an enlisted member of the United States armed forces allow a prisoner to escape either by design or neglect, you may be charged under Article 96 of the UCMJ for the Release of a Prisoner without Proper Authority.

Even if you have nothing to do with the release of the escaped prisoner, expect the government to claim that your actions were so negligent that you must have known about the escape beforehand.

  • You could face a prison sentence of up to two years. How will that affect your future? How will that affect your relationships?
  • You may be dishonorably discharged from the military. You will hide your history from future employers. Your past crimes will be shamefully displayed on Google for anyone to look at.
  • All pay, all benefits, all allowances will be forfeited. All the hard work that you’ve done for the military to earn those benefits will be for nothing.

You could be facing a prison sentence for releasing an individual you didn’t even know. Do not take your charges lying down. Fight back with the aggressive legal representation of Bilecki & Tipon TODAY.

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What Is Article 96 of the UCMJ?

A soldier with handcuffs onEvery article of the UCMJ requires prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a handful of critical assumptions—known as elements—to convict you of a crime. Article 96 defines three unique offenses, each with its own set of elements to prove.

Accusations under Article 96, from most to least serious:

  • (1) Releasing a prisoner without proper authority
    • (a) That a certain prisoner was committed to the charge of the accused; and
    • (b) That the accused released the prisoner without proper authority
  • (2) Suffering a prisoner to escape through design
    • (a) That a certain prisoner was committed to the charge of the accused;
    • (b) That the design of the accused was to suffer the escape of that prisoner; and
    • (c) That the prisoner escaped as a result of the carrying out of the design of the accused
  • (3) Suffering a prisoner to escape through neglect
    • (a) That a certain prisoner was committed to the charge of the accused;
    • (b) That the prisoner escaped;
    • (c) That the accused did not take such care to prevent the escape as a reasonably careful person would have in the similar circumstances; and
    • (d) That the escape was the proximate result of the neglect

Summary of the Elements of Article 96: In order to criminally convict you under Article 96, the government must prove that a) a prisoner did indeed escape, and b) the accused had something to do with it—whether by design or neglect. Expect the prosecution and defense wage a pitched battle over the circumstances surrounding your actions up to and during the escape.

Military Defense Attorney for Article 96 of the UCMJ: Strategies and Tactics

Unlike many other crimes under the UCMJ, prosecutors looking for a conviction under Article 96 need only prove that the escape appeared like a purposeful act. In other words, any conduct by the accused that prosecutors deem to be “so wantonly devoid of care” that it caused the escape of the prisoner may incur the more serious charge.

The defense attorneys at Bilecki & Tipon understand the government’s playbook and know exactly how to form a counter-strategy to combat it. We begin by asking a few essential questions into your case:

  • How did the escape occur? What level of access did you have that could facilitate that escape? We’ll perform our own investigation into the escape to determine whether you even had the ability to secure this individual’s release.
  • Can prosecutors prove your connection to this person? Is there any evidence or witness testimony proving you knew who this individual was? Even if you did know the escaped offender, what would you gain from that individual’s release? We can have the case thrown out completely if prosecutors can’t connect you to the individual that escaped.
  • Did you deviate from your habits on the day or night of the escape, or were you consistent? If you deviated, what was the reason for doing so? If you were consistent but the government claims negligence, why didn’t anyone correct your actions prior to the escape? We can fight back charges of negligence by showing that other service members performed their duties in the same way you did.

If you are short on time and allies and unsure of whom to turn to, Bilecki & Tipon can help. Contact us today and receive a free consultation into your case.

Contact Bilecki & Tipon

Experienced Military Defense Lawyers for Article 96 Charges

We understand what it takes to win an Article 96 court-martial. Our experienced attorneys will make short work of the government’s prosecutors, guaranteeing the best possible outcome in your case.

Here are just a few of the stunning upsets by the defense attorneys at Bilecki & Tipon:

Bilecki & Tipon will help you fight back against charges under Article 96: Releasing Prisoner without Proper Authority

Call Us Today: 800.996.9747

Frequently Asked Questions About Article 96

What Is the Maximum Possible Punishment for Article 96: Releasing Prisoner without Authority?

There are three possible criminal charges under Article 96, each with its own maximum sentencing:

Releasing a prisoner without proper authority OR suffering a prisoner to escape through design:

  • Reduction to E-1
  • Forfeiture of all pay and allowances
  • Confinement for 2 years
  • Dishonorable discharge

Suffering a prisoner to escape through neglect:

  • Reduction to E-1
  • Forfeiture of all pay and allowances
  • Confinement for 1 years
  • Bad conduct discharge

What Does It Mean to “Suffer a Prisoner to Escape through Design”?

If the government believes that your negligence or deviance from normal activity was so wantonly devoid of care that it allowed a prisoner to escape, then they may claim that you had to have known that the escape would occur. Prosecutors need only prove that your actions leading up to and during the escape were very convenient to the escaped prisoner.

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